Thick and Creamy Clam Chowder
We just returned from a spring break trip to the Oregon Coast. The weather was mostly cold, although we did have two sunny days! We didn’t mind because we missed the snow storms that hit back home and we ate lots of clam chowder wherever we went!
Besides eating lots of clam chowder, we also flew kites, the boys skim boarded in the waves and we went clamming for Purple Vanish Clams. The clamming itself wasn’t difficult, but these are clams that need to be cleaned and that was very time consuming. We had a lot of clams since the limit is 72 clams per person per day.
Rod asked if I wanted to go clamming for a second day. I told him to clean a bucket of clams and then let me know what he thought. Needless to say we didn’t go out again! We had plenty of clams to bring home and plenty to make clam chowder with!
All of this fresh deliciousness was turned into a delicious pot of Clam Chowder! I used fresh clams, but you could easily use canned clams too. Use whatever is available for you.
To use fresh purple varnish clams, you need to first soak them in salt water overnight. This helps remove extra sand. In the morning boil a pot of water and add the clams. They will immediately begin popping open. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice water. Next you remove the meat from the shell and clean ’em. I’ve linked a great video above on the cleaning steps. My understanding is each type of clam has it’s own cleaning methods. If you are using a different type of fresh clam, you will want to see how they should be cleaned.
My recipe calls for clam juice. You can either buy bottled clam juice or use the liquid from your steamed clams. I did not save the juice from my clams. Since we were on vacation, I didn’t want to transport liquid back home with me.
Rich and creamy clam chowder
- 4 slices bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 cup onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup celery finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups clam juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 4 red potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 cup clams chopped
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup half-n-half
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup crispy bacon bits
- fresh chopped parsley
- oyster crackers
In a large soup pot, cook bacon until nearly crispy. Add onions and celery. Continue cooking until onions are soft.
Stir in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Add clam juice, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. Add chopped potatoes. Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. Stir every few minutes to avoid scorching. If mixture becomes too thick, add 1/2 cup water.
Stir in clams, milk and half-n-half. Heat to a simmer. Do not bring to a boil. Taste and add salt if needed.
Serve with additional bacon bits, fresh parsley and oyster crackers.
I used red potatoes and left most of the skin on. You can peel skin if desired.
Add 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon salt as needed. The bacon adds a lot of saltiness and you may find no additional salt is needed.
For a thicker chowder, substitute whole milk for half-n-half.
Chowder can be made ahead of time and cooled and stored in fridge. Slowly reheat over medium low heat, stirring often to avoid scorching. If chowder has become too thick, just add a bit more half-n-half to desired consistency.
Other Great Recipes to Try